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Vol.  10  No. 6 June 2008  Page 16
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Ernest Underwood

A Moment of Reflection

Baptism in Action

By Ernest S. Underwood

    In Hebrews 11:7, it is stated: “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” Then, in Genesis 6:22 it is written: “Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did.” This last passage simply says that Noah did what God told him to do in the way God told him to do it. When we come to the action of baptism, we must have that same attitude. Some say that it doesn’t matter how one is baptized (according to their definition of that word). However, a question comes to mind. Who said it doesn’t matter? Has God said so? Did it matter the size, the instructions concerning the building of the ark? It must be remembered that the Scriptures say that Noah operated by faith, a faith that came by hearing God’s Word (cf. Romans 10:17).

    If one wants to know the meaning of a Greek word, and baptizo is a Greek word, then he cannot go to an English dictionary to find the correct definition. For instance, if I should meet you on the street and say, “Kak Dalah,” could you know what I had said by looking it up in Webster’s dictionary? Obviously not, since the words are Russian, meaning, “How are you?” By the same logic, if we want to know the meaning of a Greek word, we must go to a Greek dictionary or lexicon. Let’s look at what the recognized Greek scholars, men who know the language, have said.

Bagster—“Baptizo: To dip, immerse, to cleanse or purify by washing.”

Bloomfield“Baptizo: To immerse or sink anything in water or other liquid.”

Greenfield“Baptizo: To immerse, submerge, sink.”

Liddell and Scott—“Baptizo: To dip in or under water.”

Robinson—“Baptizo: To immerse or sink.”

Thayer—“Baptizo: To dip repeatedly, to immerge, to submerge.”

    Now, having looked at what the scholars say, let us look at what some great men of the past have said about the action of baptism:

Martin Luther—“Baptism is a Greek word. It may be rendered into the Latin by ‘mersio,’ when we immerse anything in water, that it may be entirely covered with water.”

John Calvin—“It is evident that the term baptize means to immerse, and that this was the form used by the early church.”

John Wesley—“We are buried with him. Alluding to the ancient manner of baptizing by immersion.”

Lyman Coleman—“The primary significance of the original is to dip, plunge, immerse; the obvious import of the noun is immersion.”

    Last of all, let us see what the Scriptures say, for they are the final authority. “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). “…buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” (Colossians 2:12). Since the scholars, other great men and the Scriptures are in unison as to the meaning of the word, how say some that baptism is sprinkling or pouring. Why do they practice this when it is absolutely foreign to the Word of God? Why do they say that it doesn’t matter? Again, who said it doesn’t matter? Can one, like Noah, do “all according as God had commanded him” and practice this substitution? Can one truly say that he has operated by faith (doing what God said, in the way God said, for the purpose that God said) when he openly shows so little respect for what God actually has said. What about you, my friend; have you been scripturally baptized, that is, immersed, and for the remission of sins? If not, please consider what God has said, then obey Jesus Christ (Mark 16:16).

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